Nationwide round-up (02/16/21)

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NPC tells teachers: Don’t post photos, videos of students in online classes

THE National Privacy Commission (NPC) is warning teachers against posting on social media photos or video clips collected from online classrooms to protect the privacy of students. The commission said in a statement on Tuesday that schools should enforce social media policies that prevent teachers and staff from using personal data collected in official school activities for personal purposes. Data privacy measures cover screen captures, images, videos, chat messages, and sounds involving students and teachers. “The efforts of schools to simulate physical classrooms to provide a sense of normalcy for education is not unnoticed by the Commission,” NPC Commissioner Raymund E. Liboro said. “However, seeing as the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic caught all of us unprepared, there is a need to develop and improve policies that allow effective online teaching and learning without endangering data privacy rights.” School work should be sent directly to the teacher and should not be publicly available, NPC said. School communications like grades and fee reminders should also be sent directly to the recipient, it added. Primary, secondary and tertiary schools, with a few exceptions such as medical courses, have been operating under a distance learning structure to minimize physical interactions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission said that schools should also consider encouraging teachers and students to use virtual backgrounds to avoid showing private living spaces. “Online classes may be recorded for learners who may have missed a particular class, subject to existing school policies on attendance,” the commission said. “The recording may be used by the school and educators for training purposes, with learners and/or parents and guardians informed beforehand.” — Jenina P. Ibañez

National ID pre-registration reaches almost 16 million

AN additional 5.4 million Filipinos have pre-registered for the national ID so far this year, adding to the 10.5 million who completed the first of three steps last year, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). The total of those who listed since January make up 36% of the 15-million target for the first quarter this year, said Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua in a Viber message. The rollout of the national ID system started in October 2020. The pre-registration stage obtains the demographic information of registrants through house-to-house visits. This is followed by the biometrics registration phase, which started late last month, where applicants are given a schedule to visit PSA registration centers to have their biometrics taken. The third and final step involves the issuance of the unique, Philippine Identification System (PhilSys) number, one of the system’s key features, and the actual physical card, formally called the PhilID. Republic Act No. 11055 or the Philippine Identification System Act signed in August 2018 provides for a single identification system for all citizens and does away with the need to register for multiple government-issued IDs. The PSA aims to register over 40 million people this year and more than 90 million by June 2022, when the current administration is due to step down. — Beatrice M. Laforga

139 Filipinos in Myanmar repatriated

OVER a hundred Filipinos in Myanmar returned to the Philippines Tuesday night due to the coronavirus pandemic and political situation there. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said 139 Filipinos were repatriated, including 11 children and four dependent parents of Filipino workers whose contracts were affected by restrictions due to coronavirus. “This is a testament to our government’s steadfast commitment to assisting our people across the globe. We at the DFA are doing our best to do just that by bringing our people home amid the pandemic,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said in a statement. The DFA said a total of 509 Filipino workers in Myanmar have been repatriated since March last year due to the pandemic. Protests have erupted in different parts of Myanmar after its military staged a coup against its government on February 1. Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials have been detained. The DFA in a statement last week said the Philippines joined China, Russia, Venezuela, and Bolivia in “dissociating” from the United Nations Human Rights Council, which adopted a resolution without calling for a vote. The Philippines has instead called for the “complete restoration of the status quo in which Myanmar had made so much progress.” “As a sovereign country in a world of sovereign states, the Philippines cannot stress strongly enough the primacy of national internal efforts towards democratic reforms, and never by the imposition of foreign solutions whether in regional or multilateral contexts, including through this Council. We reaffirm our support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Myanmar,” the statement read. The UN resolution calls for the restoration of the government and release of detained Myanmar officials. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Application for Supreme Court top post extended

THE Judicial Bar Council (JBC) has extended the application period for the Supreme Court chief justice position to February 26, Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra confirmed in a Viber message to reporters on Monday. Both physical and online submissions of the required documents for application must be completed on or before the new deadline. Mr. Guevarra said only two senior associate justices of the high court have submitted their requirements as of Monday, Feb. 15, the original deadline. Mr. Guevarra said the extension was made upon the request of senior associate justices. Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta is retiring on March 27, a year earlier than the mandatory age of 70. Mr. Peralta has yet to publicly announce the reason why he sought the early retirement option. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago

Bar exams going digital, localized this year

THE annual exams for aspiring lawyers, which was called off last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be held in various testing sites across the country this year and will be digital. In a resolution dated Feb. 8, the Supreme Court approved “a digitalized, localized, and proctored modality” for the 2021 Bar Examinations, the high court announced on Monday. The exams will be held on November 7, 14, 21, and 28. Examinees will have the option to take it either in a testing center closest to their location or the law school they graduated from. The Supreme Court will accredit testing sites and announce the list before the exam applications in May. Examinees will be required to bring their own WiFi-enabled laptops that run on Mac or Windows operating systems. Handwritten examinations will be allowed only for examinees who have a physical disability that prohibits them from taking the examinations through a computer. A mock digital Bar exam was held January 31 in several pilot areas to evaluate the feasibility of the new modality. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago

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